Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota to cover some video visits via Doctor on Demand

By Jonah Comstock
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Doctor On DemandBlue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has brought on San Francisco-based Doctor on Demand as the health insurer's new preferred telehealth provider. Starting in 2016, members of some BCBS plans will pay a reduced rate or no rate for Doctor on Demand's no-subscription video visit platform.

Additionally, Doctor on Demand's software will support claims processing for BCBS Minnesota customers and they'll have the option to set up automatic payment through their Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account, in addition to other payment options. Normally, Doctor on Demand regular visits cost $40 and behavioral health visits range from $50 for a 25-minute session to $95 for a 50-minute session.

"Doctor On Demand is an innovator in telehealth with easy to use technology and national access to high quality medical and behavioral health services," Garrett Black, senior vice president of health collaboration and provider relations at Blue Cross, said in a statement. "Our focus on providing convenient, high quality care to all of our members, whether they are in rural or metro areas, is brought to life through the services provided by Doctor On Demand. Doctor On Demand delivers on what our customers told us they wanted from telehealth – more available health care services, an easy to use experience and a cost-effective solution available on mobile technology."

This continues a trend of payers, especially Blues and United, beginning to recommend and reimburse specific teleheath offerings for their members.

In March, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced a pilot of American Well's video visit service. Over the course of the two-year pilot, providers will use WellConnection to conduct video visits with patients to address a variety of health issues that are ultimately up to the discretion of the participating physicians. Providers can use the offering to monitor a patient’s concussion recovery, offer wellness coaching, check the patient’s response to a medication, or monitor a patient’s recovery after they were hospitalized.

In April, UnitedHealthcare announced that it would cover a range of video visits from Doctor On Demand, American Well’s AmWell, and its own Optum’s NowClinic, which is a white-labeled American Well offering. The insurance company pointed out that the average price of a video visit is less than $50, and as part of its coverage for the service its members will still be responsible for a portion of that fee depending on the deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket expenses associated with their specific benefit plan.

And just last week, Capital BlueCross, a Pennsylvania Blue, announced that starting in 2016, the company will offer telehealth services through American Well to members enrolled in most Capital BlueCross health plans. While Amwell typically costs $49 per video visit, a Capital BlueCross spokesperson told MobiHealthNews that its members will pay a lower fee of $39 per visit.